WotC Publishes 5th Edition D&D Dates, Prices, Covers

We now have official street dates, cover art, and prices for the Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition books (and other goodies).

First, the boxed D&D Starter Set comes out July 15th with a MSRP of $19.99. It “includes a 64-page adventure book with everything the Dungeon Master needs to get started, a 32-page rulebook for playing characters level 1 – 5, 5 pre-generated characters, each with a character sheet and supporting reference material, and 6 dice.” It’s already available for pre-order on Amazon.com for $16.04.

Next, the Player’s Handbook comes out for GenCon, August 19th, followed by the Monster Manual on September 30th, and finally the Dungeon Master’s Guide on November 18th. All three books have a MSRP of $49.95.

Just to keep things in perspective, that’s approximately $17.36 each in 1980 dollars, for a total buy-in of slightly over $50, compared to the 1st edition buy-in of $39. The 5th edition books also have much higher page counts, so I’m not put off by the price.

The three core rulebooks don’t seem to be up on Amazon.com for pre-order yet, but I’m sure that shoe will drop soon. You can also pre-order the Player’s Handbook, Monster Manual, and Dungeon Master’s Guide on Amazon now. But do consider sending the business to your FLGS, if you value having public venues that allow play.

August will also see the Hoard of the Dragon Queen adventure path, followed by The Rise of Tiamat in October. Miniatures supporting the multi-part mega-adventure (Tyranny of Dragons) will be available in July.

I note that they’re just calling it “D&D” (without the “Next” or any edition number), which is good. Of the three core rulebook covers, my favorite is the Monster Manual.

Based on what I’ve seen in the public playtest documents, having played both a low-level and high-level game at conventions, and the signs and portents that have been coming out of WotC, I’m really looking forward to the new edition. I think they’ve done a good job in keeping the mechanics relatively light (compared to 4E or even 3.5), and they seem to be genuinely interested in courting the old-school community, as a lot of old-school sensibilities seem to be taking shape in the rules, along with some very interesting mechanics (“advantage/disadvantage” still strikes me as a terrific idea that could be ported to any edition of the game).

Really looking forward to running this come Autumn.

Written by 

Wargamer and RPG'er since the 1970's, author of Adventures Dark and Deep, Castle of the Mad Archmage, and other things, and proprietor of the Greyhawk Grognard blog.

24 thoughts on “WotC Publishes 5th Edition D&D Dates, Prices, Covers

  1. I'll be interested in reading reviews but it's nothing I'd ever buy any more than I'd buy yet another edition of GURPS or Hero or Call of Cthulhu.

  2. Not that we didn't know they were targeting Grogs with some of this, but it's rather flattering that they included King Snure on the cover of the PH.

  3. The 1980's "price" is really only valid if people also saw pay increase in that scale. I get what you are trying to suggest but disagree. 50 bucks per book not reasonable in my world.

    1. Nor in mine. Maybe if $50 actually bought an entire playable game, but even then it's high despite what was written below. I suppose TSR or whoever doesn't get a bulk discount on printing since their audience is so small, but I see plenty of nicely done hardcovers by publishers that cost nowhere near this for such a short book. Not for
      me anyway. I don't really understand the need for another version of D&D.

  4. I get what you are trying to suggest but disagree. 50 bucks per book not reasonable in my world.

    It may not be "reasonable" in that you don't want to pay for it, but if you do the math, it may well be reasonable from a cost of materials standpoint. If you poke around online, you will find publishing quotes for a hard cover, 8×11, glossy (or semi-gloss) color, 320 page book runs between ~$25-$50 / book depending on size of print run and particular publisher and options. Obviously, we can assume that WotC probably gets their books published for close to the low end of that scale, and probably a little less.

    You will then also find that retail markup for books is roughly 50% of the list price. So of that $50, $25 is all that goes to WotC to cover publishing and paying all of their people. So yeah, maybe not a price you want to pay, but certainly a price that probably reflects reality. Production costs are going up, and the production quality demanded is also up from days of old.

  5. Hey Joe, actually all the books are up for pre-order on Amazon. It took me a bit to find but if you click the link Wizards under publisher and then select publication date on their Amazon page, all the books pop up!

  6. I get what you are trying to suggest but disagree. 50 bucks per book not reasonable in my world.

    They are also only around $40 on Amazon and Barnes & Noble will be 20% off for members since they are hardback plus they usually send out further discounts on top of that).

    Like Joseph said, I will buy mine at my FLGS (where I also get 10% off!), but there are many options besides paying full price!

  7. Art-wise, it's a far cry from Erol Otus. Maybe the interior illustrations will be better (and more old school).

    As for depressed wages and stagnant salaries, the blame lies at the feet of Corporate America. It's sad that the working class paycheck doesn't measure up to publishing production costs.

  8. Any truth to the criticism that 5E retains "videogamey" elements found in 4E — eg. special abilities that can be used once per encounter? That kind of crap is a deal breaker for me.

  9. Not really, Greg. There are some abilities that a character needs to rest in order to re-use, but they seem to be steering clear of more meta-terminology like "once per encounter" in the public playtest rules.

  10. 1st Edition buy-in price was actually $32.85 for DMs and $9.95 for other players. PHB & MM had MSRP $9.95, DMG was $12.95.

  11. $32.85 in 1980 had the same buying power as $99.81 in 2014.

    $9.95 in 1980 had the same buying power as $30.23 in 2014.

    Higher page-counts and higher quality paper and binding might explain some of the differential here between 1E and 5E. Also more folks involved with the design and layout of the books, I would think.

  12. Can't say I 'm all that impressed by the "higher quality paper and binding". My 1e first printings have stood up to 15 years of daily use followed by another 30 of 2-3x per week use.

    I did see some serious problems with bad bindings and partially printed pages on the MM2 and UA though.

    As for paper quality, the thin glossy stuff they've been using since 3e is hard to read in dim or glaring light, and does not hold up well to manipulation by greasy, sweaty or sticky fingers. the print and images smudge easily. the paper also creases & rips more easily.

    And the decorated borders & irregularly bounded illustrations may look pretty at first, but they make the text harder to follow, and make it impossible to add margin notes.

    For overall appearance of the books and art quality, I like 2e best, although it and later editions completely lacked 1e's quirky sense of humor.

  13. OK guys. Not trying to sell you on the books whatsoever. Just speculating as to why they might cost more even after we take inflation into account. Geesh.

  14. At the risk of commenting on politics in the wrong one of his blogs, it's probably because book prices have inflated at 2-3 times the rate of most other goods, and by 1e standards they should probably be priced around $100 each. WotC is being very generous to the people who are dumb enough to run right out and buy each new edition.

  15. Looks pretty solid. I'll pick up the core like I did 4th and see if its more to my liking unlike 4e.

    $50 is still a lot for a book at this point, even knowing what I paid back in the 80's. Much more choosy about buy when we're in that range…..The economies were VERY different between then and now, so comparing prices with 80's ones is a bit of a red herring.

Comments are closed.